CARE OF THE NEWBORN: A MIDWIFE’S NOTE
Going through pregnancy, labor, and successful delivery is one of life’s many blessings. An exciting and memorable day of your life that you won’t forget in a hurry. Now that you are ready to go home and begin life with your baby, taking care of your child with the utmost hygiene is very important because the baby’s immune system is still developing, implying that they are naturally prone to infections. This is why you must be intentional about the care of your baby.
Here are some important guides for caring for your newborn baby.
1. WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN: Germs are easily transmitted through the hands. Always wash your hands with antiseptic soaps, especially when preparing your baby’s formula. The baby’s feeding bottles, cups, and spoons should also be properly washed and sterilized accordingly so as to avoid ingestion of bacteria that can cause harm to your baby.
2. Exclusive Breastfeeding: WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the ﬁrst 6 months of life for newborns. Breast milk contains all the necessary nutrients to support your baby’s immune system. This includes proteins, fats, sugars, enzymes, white blood cells, antibodies, and probiotics. When your baby comes in contact with germs, these substances protect him/her against a wide variety of diseases and infections. .
3. CORD CARE: During pregnancy, the umbilical cord was the literal lifeline for your baby. However, after birth, it isn’t required anymore. The stump of the umbilical cord remains in your child’s navel (belly button). Don’t try to remove the stump as it will eventually fall off between 3-14 days.
● Apply 4% chlorhexidine gel to the cord stump, or clean with spirit and cotton wool every two hours.
● Always assess the cord for bleeding. If you see bleeding from it, take your baby to the hospital immediately as this could imply deficiency of vitamin k.
● Clean the cord from the base upward.
● Don’t apply any other substance on the cord other than those mentioned above, as tetanus could easily be acquired by babies through poor cord care
● Wash your hands before and after cord cleaning.
4. TEMPERATURE REGULATION: Babies are not as adaptable as adults to temperature changes. When babies are cold-stressed, they use energy and oxygen to generate warmth. Overdressing your baby can lead to overheating, which increases your baby’s temperature. Please, ensure an optimal temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold. Getting your baby a digital thermometer can also serve as a guide. For newborn babies, temperatures in the range of 36.5 – 37.5°C are considered normal.
5. VACCINATION: They help the body to develop early immunity so that body can form a defense system at an early age. This is the main reason immunization is given to your baby as a primary means to protect the body against deadly infectious diseases, like poliomyelitis, hepatitis, and chicken pox. In that regard, we encourage you to take your child(ren) for vaccinations at the right time and date as scheduled by your healthcare provider.
6. MEDICATIONS: Medicines prescribed for your baby should be administered according to the prescribed dose and time. If you have any concerns about your baby’s health, seek medical attention. Avoid self-prescriptions as overdose or the outright use of medicines could produce harmful effects.
7. COLIC PAIN: This is a condition in which your baby cries for an extended amount of time for no apparent reason, such as hunger or illness. It usually starts around two weeks (after birth) and can last up to 4 months. Colicky babies eat well and even gain weight, yet still uncomfortable.
A few suggested home remedies are as follows:
● Gently rock your baby over your shoulder
● Keep feeding your baby as usual
● Make him/her burp after each feeding session.
● Cuddle your baby
● Sit and hold your baby upright during feeding to stop and reduce the amount of air he/she swallows.
● If you notice your baby is crying continuously and has any symptoms of fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or blood in the stool, ensure you visit the hospital for proper assessment and management.
Colic is common in as much as one out of every ten newborns but it is not harmful to your baby. Notwithstanding, always contact your pediatrician if you are unsure about anything. Caring for your newborn can be very demanding, especially for ﬁrst-time mothers but you just need to have a positive mindset and be ready to enjoy every bit of motherhood.
Written by Nurse Brenda. Proofread and Vetted by Dr. Umoru (Consultant Paeditrician)